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Dr. Sindy Zemura-Bernard

Dr. Sindy Zemura-Bernard

She is a distinguished humanitarian, social entrepreneur, and international development executive.

HShe is the founder and CEO of the Southern Africa Embrace Foundation, a charitable organization, dedicated to empowering marginalized women, children, and youth across Southern Africa.

The foundation focuses on education, youth empowerment, gender equality, and rural economic development in countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Dr. Zemura-Bernard’s career spans over two decades, during which she has gained experience in both the non-profit sector and international development.

She has served on numerous boards and committees, including those associated with UN Women, the African Union, and various United Nations agencies.

Her work has earned her multiple awards and recognitions, highlighting her contributions to humanitarian causes and gender equality.

Dr. Zemura-Bernard is also known for her roles as a global events moderator and public speaker, often advocating for the rights and empowerment of vulnerable groups at high-level global events.

Her foundation, the Southern Africa Embrace Foundation, holds Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), allowing it to participate in UN deliberations on a variety of issues related to its mission.

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Esther Mwaniki

Esther is a Kenyan leadership development expert passionate about shaping the next generation of African leaders.

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 Ory Okolloh

Ory is a Kenyan activist, lawyer, and a strong advocate for using technology to promote democracy and human rights.

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Malawi: Amped Innovation and Green Impact Technologies to Electrify 15,000 Rural Households With Solar Power

Key Developments

Malawi: Amped Innovation and Green Impact Technologies to Electrify 15,000 Rural Households With Solar Power

In a bid to tackle the challenge of limited electricity access in Malawi, two startups, Green Impact Technologies (GIT) and Amped Innovation, have joined forces to bring solar power to rural households.
 

This initiative targets at least 70,000 homes by June 2024, significantly improving the lives of residents currently lacking a reliable electricity source.

The project is fueled by a $20 million grant from the Malawi Off-Grid Market Development Fund (OGMDF), also known as the Ngwee Ngwee Ngwee Fund (NNNF).

Funded by the World Bank, the NNNF aims to expand access to electricity through off-grid solar solutions and stimulate the development of this market sector in Malawi.

“This partnership will bring much-needed energy access to rural communities,” said Andi Kleissner, Co-CEO of Amped Innovation.

“Access to reliable solar power will not only improve daily life but also strengthen the agricultural economy and empower communities to build resilience against climate challenges.”

Amped Innovation, a California-based company, will supply its WowSolar™ kits, which include LED bulbs and mobile phone charging stations.

Green Impact Technologies, led by Admore Chiumia, will oversee distribution through a well-established pay-per-use model commonly used for solar kits in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To ensure widespread reach, GIT recently equipped a team of 200 sales agents to travel across Malawi’s rural areas, where a staggering 96% of households currently lack access to electricity.

This initiative presents a significant step towards Malawi’s goal of expanding electricity access and fostering economic development in rural communities.

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AfriLabs and Emerge Green Africa Join Forces to Drive Green Development in Africa

Key Developments

AfriLabs and Emerge Green Africa Join Forces to Drive Green Development in Africa

In a collaborative effort to propel Africa’s transition towards a sustainable future, AfriLabs, a pan-African network of innovation hubs, has partnered with Emerge Green Africa.

This impactful project aims to unlock green development across the continent by leveraging innovative energy modelling tools.

AfriLabs boasts a vast network, encompassing 478 hubs spread across 260 cities in 53 African nations.

The organization serves as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship by fostering connections between technology hubs, startups, investors, and other key players within the African innovation ecosystem.

Having recently welcomed 16 new hubs into its fold, AfriLabs continues to expand its reach and solidify its position as a leading force for African progress.

Emerge Green Africa, launched in December 2023, is dedicated to equipping policymakers, academics, investors, and citizens across Africa with the resources they need to cultivate clean energy production and promote sustainable resource utilization.

The project strives to bridge cultural and socioeconomic divides in its pursuit of a greener Africa.

To achieve this ambitious goal, Emerge Green Africa will develop and test a comprehensive toolbox. This toolbox will be meticulously designed through a co-creation process, drawing upon existing tools, methodologies, and best practices. The toolbox will facilitate the simulation of scenarios that optimize resource utilization.

Furthermore, the project will establish a knowledge base – a central repository that will house initiatives, informative materials, and platforms for knowledge exchange.

Emerge Green Africa plans to cultivate vibrant knowledge communities within three key African ecosystems: North-Western Africa (Morocco), the Niger River region (encompassing Mali and Nigeria), and East Africa (with a focus on Mozambique).

These communities will be fostered through a participatory approach, ensuring a collaborative and inclusive knowledge-sharing environment.

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Rwanda Launches Africa’s First Center for Fourth Industrial Revolution

Key Developments

Rwanda Launches Africa's First Center for Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Rwandan Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Innovation, alongside the World Economic Forum, launched the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in Rwanda, marking a first for the African continent.

C4IRs are hubs for shaping technology governance policies and strategies.

This network allows for agile implementation and adaptation through collaboration between national and sub-national centers.

Rwanda’s C4IR will prioritize data governance, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning.

President Paul Kagame, officiating at the opening ceremony, highlighted Rwanda’s ongoing investment in science and technology.

He expressed hope that the C4IR would leverage this foundation to make the Fourth Industrial Revolution an inclusive force, tackling pressing global challenges.

World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, participating virtually, emphasized the importance of Africa shaping the future of technology governance.

He believes the C4IR will usher in a new era for Rwanda and the continent, underlining the significance of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Børge Brende, World Economic Forum President, delivered the keynote address. He emphasized the C4IR network’s role in guiding leaders to anticipate, understand, and shape technological advancements for human-centered outcomes.

C4IR Rwanda will collaborate with global stakeholders to design and pilot innovative approaches to technology governance within the country, promoting responsible and inclusive advancements.

C4IR Rwanda has already played a key role in developing Rwanda’s data protection and privacy legislation, while co-designing its national AI policy.

Several pilot projects are underway with the private sector, focusing on AI applications in healthcare and exploring responsible scaling and governance.

One such collaboration involves integrating the World Economic Forum’s Chatbots RESET framework. The Rwanda AI Triage pilot, led by Babylon, a global healthcare company, has adopted this framework to manage over 4,000 daily medical consultations via call centers.

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African Pre-Seed Investor Madica Announces Funding for Three Startups

New Investments

African Pre-Seed Investor Madica Announces Funding for Three Startups

Madica, an African-focused investment program targeting early-stage startups, revealed its inaugural investments in three promising companies: Kola Market (Ghana), GoBEBA (Kenya), and NewForm Foods (South Africa).

This news comes amidst a decline in funding for African startups, which dropped to $3.5 billion in 2023 after reaching a peak of $6.5 billion in 2022.

Each of the chosen startups will receive up to $200,000 in funding alongside entry into Madica’s 18-month program.

This program provides tailored company-building support to address the specific needs of each venture.

Madica’s Head, Emmanuel Adegboye, acknowledged the uneven distribution of venture capital in Africa and emphasized that the program aims to empower founders who are frequently overlooked by investors.

“These startups exemplify the unrealized potential of African entrepreneurs who lack crucial support due to a perception of high risk by global investors,” Adegboye said.

“Our mission this year is to empower more of these founders and integrate them into the global startup landscape.”

Launched in 2022 with the backing of Flourish Ventures, a US-based venture capital firm, Madica bridges the gap by offering funding, technological assistance, and mentorship to underrepresented founders across Africa.

The program tackles the distinct challenges faced by African startups, including limited access to capital, a lack of investors and mentors, and the absence of structured support systems.

These limitations hinder efforts to address critical issues and foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation across the continent.

Investing in the Future of African Innovation

  • Kola Market: Founded by Marie-Reine Seshie, this Ghanaian B2B platform empowers SMEs by streamlining sales, optimizing inventory management, and facilitating access to financing. The funding will enable Kola Market to test new initiatives and expand operations to deliver greater value to its customers.
  • GoBEBA: Co-founded by Lesley Mbogo and Peter Ndiang’ui, GoBEBA is a Kenyan e-commerce platform that simplifies the purchase and doorstep delivery of essential bulky goods in urban areas, ensuring a safe, swift, and reliable service.
  • NewForm Foods: This South African company, established by Brett Thompson and Tasneem Karodia, provides food producers and retailers with the tools to rapidly develop and scale cultivated meat production at a significantly lower cost than current industry standards.

Madica’s investment in these innovative startups signifies a commitment to nurturing the next generation of African entrepreneurs and propelling Africa’s future through technological advancements.

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“We are delighted to partner with ISA to support the development of solar energy in Africa,” said Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50. “This partnership will help to accelerate the deployment of solar energy in Africa and improve the lives of millions of Africans,” he added.

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SA Edtech HyperionDev Secures $5 Million in Funding to Drive Tech Skills

New Investments

SA Edtech HyperionDev Secures $5 Million in Funding to Drive Tech Skills

South African tech education provider HyperionDev announced securing R95 million (approximately $5 million) in a new funding round. This latest investment brings the company’s total growth capital to R595 million ($31.1 million).

The identity of the investors remains undisclosed, but HyperionDev revealed the participation of 23 backers from various countries. The company plans to utilize the funds to bolster its presence in South Africa and the United Kingdom, while also entering new markets.

“This funding marks a significant chapter for HyperionDev,” said Riaz Moola, founder and CEO of the company. “It underscores the critical need for global skills development in today’s digital age.”

Moola highlighted HyperionDev’s existing partnerships with universities like Stellenbosch University in South Africa and Imperial College London in the UK.

He also mentioned new collaborations in North America, France, and Spain. These alliances, according to Moola, have solidified HyperionDev’s position as a frontrunner in global tech education.

The funding will also support the expansion of HyperionDev’s educational offerings and scholarship programs, including the HyperionDev Academy.

Emphasizing their commitment to South Africa, Moola stated, “We are actively seeking to partner with more universities nationwide and collaborate with the government to strengthen digital skills development and improve employability across the country.”

Founded in 2012, HyperionDev offers specialized, mentored coding bootcamps, both online and on-site at its campuses. These programs equip students with job-ready tech skills for careers in the technology sector.

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“We are delighted to partner with ISA to support the development of solar energy in Africa,” said Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50. “This partnership will help to accelerate the deployment of solar energy in Africa and improve the lives of millions of Africans,” he added.

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Bolt, MKOPA Partner to Launch Electric Motorcycles in Kenya

Key Developments

Bolt, MKOPA Partner to Launch Electric Motorcycles in Kenya

Ride-hailing company Bolt has introduced electric motorcycles to its Kenyan fleet.

This initiative comes through partnerships with electric vehicle manufacturers Roam Electric and Ampersand, alongside financing company M-KOPA.

The program offers new and existing Bolt drivers access to discounted leasing options for the ROAM and Ampersand electric motorbikes.

This strategic move aims to empower drivers by reducing operational costs and aligning with global efforts to combat climate change.

“We’re thrilled to introduce electric bikes, furthering our commitment to supporting drivers and offering eco-friendly transportation in Kenya,” said Caroline Wanjihia, Bolt’s Regional Director of Ride-Hailing Operations for Africa and International Markets.

“By embracing electric vehicles, we’re not only minimizing our environmental footprint but also aiming to improve driver earnings and economic stability within the communities we serve.”

Bolt aims to have 1,000 electric motorcycles operational by year-end, with a target of over 5,000 within the next two years.

This rollout complements Kenya’s recently launched National E-mobility Policy, which promotes local EV production and assembly.

These electric motorcycles offer significant advantages for drivers. With zero tailpipe emissions and lower maintenance needs compared to traditional fuel-powered vehicles, they present a cost-effective alternative, maximizing driver earnings while minimizing expenses.

David Damberger, Managing Director of M-KOPA Mobility, emphasized the company’s commitment to making electric motorbikes accessible through affordable financing solutions, particularly for underbanked individuals.

“This collaboration is a major step forward,” said Damberger. “Since launching our Mobility division in 2022, we’ve made significant progress with ROAM and Ampersand.”

Bolt’s commitment to environmental responsibility extends beyond this new initiative. Since 2019, the company has invested in projects focused on renewable energy and resource conservation.

In 2021, they introduced the Bolt Green ride category, featuring hybrid and electric cars in Nairobi to offer eco-friendly transportation options and reduce their ecological footprint.

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Egyptian Fintech Startup Bokra Secures $4.6 Million to Disrupt Wealth Management in MENA

New Investments

Egyptian Fintech Startup Bokra Secures $4.6 Million to Disrupt Wealth Management in MENA

Bokra, an Egyptian fintech company, has successfully closed a pre-seed funding round of $4.6 million.

The round was led by prominent investors DisrupTech Ventures and SS Capital, alongside participation from other undisclosed investors.

Bokra aims to revolutionize wealth management in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by offering a unique platform for goal-based investing and saving through asset-backed securities.

Founded in 2023 by Ayman El-Sawy, Bokra empowers both retail and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) investors to save and invest across various asset classes.

Traditionally, wealth management in the MENA region has been plagued by a lack of personalized financial planning, fragmented investment applications, and opaque fee structures.

Bokra tackles these challenges by offering a comprehensive solution through its upcoming Bokra app.

The app will provide users with personalized financial and investment plans tailored to their goals.

It will also allow for fractional ownership of a diverse range of investment products, enabling users to manage and grow their wealth more effectively.

“Bokra is poised to become the go-to platform for individuals and SMEs seeking to diversify their investment portfolios in a simple, trackable, and informed way,” El-Sawy remarked, highlighting the company’s commitment to promoting financial inclusion and investment awareness across MENA.

Mohamed Okasha, founder and managing partner at DisrupTech Ventures, expressed his enthusiasm, stating:

“Bokra’s launch is perfectly timed, as demand for alternative investment solutions is surging due to their attractive returns.”

Okasha further emphasized the significance of Bokra’s mission in a region with a high unbanked population.

“With a significant portion of the population lacking access to traditional banking services, we strongly support Bokra’s mission to disrupt the industry by offering the first goal-based, asset-backed securities products,” he said.

Bokra’s pre-seed funding will be used to launch the Bokra app, expand its investment product offerings, and geographically scale operations across the MENA region.

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“We are delighted to partner with ISA to support the development of solar energy in Africa,” said Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50. “This partnership will help to accelerate the deployment of solar energy in Africa and improve the lives of millions of Africans,” he added.

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TLcom Capital Closes $154 Million Fund for Early-Stage African Startups

New Investments

TLcom Capital Closes $154 Million Fund for Early-Stage African Startups

TLcom Capital, a leading African venture capital firm, announced the final close of its second fund, TIDE Africa Fund II, at $154 million.

This surpasses the initial target of $150 million and positions TLcom as the continent’s largest investor in seed and Series A startups.

The fund attracted participation from both new and returning investors, including the European Investment Bank (EIB), AfricaGrow (a joint venture between Allianz and DEG Impact), Visa Foundation, and Bertelsmann.

These join existing investors IFC and CDC Group, who participated in the first close of the fund two years ago, alongside Nigerian investment bank, FBNQuest.

TLcom has traditionally focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, but with this new fund, they are expanding their reach into North Africa, starting with Egypt.

The fund has already made investments in two promising startups: South African fintech company littlefish and Egyptian logistics startup ILLA.

“Our investment strategy remains consistent,” said Maurizio Caio, Founder and Managing Partner at TLcom Capital.

“Similar to our first fund, over 80% of TIDE Africa Fund II’s investments will be at the seed or Series A stage. This allows us to partner with Africa’s most talented entrepreneurs early on in their journeys.”

TLcom will typically invest between $1 million and $3 million initially, with the potential for follow-on investments.

Despite recent challenges in fundraising for African startups, Caio highlights the significant growth of African venture capital since TLcom’s first fund. “Raising our first fund took three years,” he said. “Back then, the concept of investing in both Africa and VC was highly unconventional. Today, the landscape is completely different.”

TLcom currently manages over $300 million in assets and has invested in 17 startups, including the unicorn Andela.

Their previous fund backed successful companies like Kobo360, Vendease, Twiga Foods, Terragon, Okra, and Ilara Health. They have also supported repeat founders like Sim Shagaya, Etop Ikpe, and Grant Brooke.

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“We are delighted to partner with ISA to support the development of solar energy in Africa,” said Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50. “This partnership will help to accelerate the deployment of solar energy in Africa and improve the lives of millions of Africans,” he added.

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